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Carol Parker - Socially Engaged Artist

I have over 25 years' experience of designing and delivering high quality participatory arts engagement, creative placemaking and socially engaged practice with communities, schools and hard to reach groups. The impact of my work has been monitored and evaluated by funders including European Development Fund, East Midlands Development Agency, Legacy UK Trust, Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund. I secured funding for and coordinated artist training with 'Arts 4 Dementia' of London; showcased creative work from those living with dementia in an exhibition during 'Synergy Lincs' and secured funding for and delivered creative sessions in South Holland. I'm currently delivering a series of creative sessions in Boston supported by Boston Big Local and will be rolling these out in Spalding, Grantham and Sleaford supported with funding from the Dementia Support Fund I am very interested in setting up a 'cultural arm' of the Dementia Action Alliance. I'm currently in discussion to provide Lincolnshire research for art and dementia working with partners including Lincoln University, sharing good practice with other regions in the UK.

24 August 2017
East Midlands
Arts, Care, Charity, Communication, Education Sector, Faith Groups, Health, Hospitals and Hospital Trusts, Housing Sector, Local Authorities, Medical, Membership Organisations, Other, Research Sector, Schools, Voluntary Sector
Local Alliances:
South Lincolnshire Dementia Action Alliance , Boston Dementia Action Alliance , Lincolnshire Network

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

There is an increasing body of evidence eg: Ageing Artfully by the Baring Foundation, An Evidence Review of the Impact of Participatory Arts on Older People by the Mental Health Foundation; to show that engagement in the arts for older people and those living with dementia:

-          Improves quality of life and improves health and well-being

-          Encourages physical movement

-          Encourages social interaction

-          Delays the onset of dementia

-          Offers sensory stimulation

-          Increases self-esteem and fosters a stronger sense of identity

-          Offers meaningful opportunity to participate in the arts

-          Reduces boredom and isolation and encourages playfulness

-          Provides the opportunity for learning new skills 

My sessions are designed around participants, giving them free choice at the 'taster day' to create their own programme of activity

I encourage volunteers/venue project workers/health professionals to take part in the sessions to provide the knowledge and support required by those living with dementia, either on a regular basis or as an invited guest - needs of participants will be agreed at first session

Each session includes feedback/discussion time when participants get to know each other and feel empowered to make changes to the programme - when this happens will be agreed with participants at first session

Each participant is valued as an individual, space is given to opt out of the activity, to observe or have a cup of tea and chat with a project worker

As much importance is given to the needs of the carer as to the individual living with dementia

With participant permission, images are uploaded to the project blog which provides evidence for action research

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Making contact with the target group when there are so many different organisations.

Lack of research in Lincolnshire to show the impact of participating in the arts for older adults and those living with dementia.

Lack of available training in Lincolnshire for Lincolnshire artists.


2. Actions

  • Delivery of creative sessions in Lincolnshire for those living with dementia and their carers & artist training

    'Making for Memory' - I secured funding for, and delivered, a series of art sessions for those living with dementia and their carers February-March 2015

    'Art 4 Dementia' training for artist facilitators  www.arts4dementia.org.uk/arts-and-dementia-training - I secured funding for and coordinated a one day training event - 9 October 2014


    2016 - Fourth Quarter Update

    Numbers increasing in sessions, both those living with dementia and their carers.

    Sessions continuing through 2017.


  • Delivery of creative sessions in Boston for those living with dementia and their carers

    23.5.17 - I now deliver a creative session to 'Memory Lane' once a month, the group continues to grow, leading their own activities on other days they meet.

    'Memory Lane' - I am currently delivering a 10 session programme of arts activity in Boston supported with funding from Boston Big Local and partnering Lincs CC and Boston Mayflower.


    2017 - First Quarter Update

    23.5.17 - Memory Lane Boston sessions ongoing, further funding received from Boston Big Local to ensure sustainability of the group in the short term

    Artists Carol Parker and Fiona Gurney were commissioned to co-create a large public art mosaic for Boston town centre with the Memory Lane Boston group.  It was installed near B&M bargains in time for Dementia Awareness Week 2016.

    Carol Parker coordinated a yarnbomb for Dementia Awareness Week 2016 contributed to by the Memory Lane Boston group, Boston residents/visitors, members of other art/dementia groups in South Lincs and her network of artists across the UK - to raise awareness of dementia and brighten up a neglected area of the town.

    2016 - First Quarter Update

    8 sessions delivered, 2 more till end of current programme.  Funding for further sessions tbc

  • Creative sessions for those living with dementia and their carers in S. Holland & S. Kesteven

    These sessions have now ended as no more funding available through the Dementia Support Network. Participants were just beginning to take ownership of their group and choosing activities they wanted to do at the next session.   All creative sessions NICE Quality Standard 50, Quality Statement 1 - Participation in Meaningful Activity.

    Creative sessions now confirmed for 2016 in Grantham, Spalding and Sleaford.

    Sessions focus on play and making, not reminiscence. All activities are accessible and inclusive. Emphasis on increasing self esteem, confidence and social interaction and reducing rural and social isolation. No previous experience necessary.

    Spalding sessions take place weekly at Tonic Health, Broadgate House on a Thurs from 11am-1pm.  Programme 1 completed, Programme 2 ongoing on an outreach basis to care homes and older adult community groups.  Prog 3 again on outreach basis, to start in September 2016.

    Sleaford sessions take place weekly at Riverside Church (back room) on a Tues from 10am-12pm (change of day and time). Prog 1 completed, Prog 2 starts on 27 September 2016 at the Salvation Army Hall, Sleaford.

    Grantham sessions  Prog 1 completed, Prog 2 starts on 27 September 2016 at Jubilee Life Centre.

    Boston sessions take place on the 2nd and 4th Wed of the month from 10am-12pm at Mayfields, Broadfield Lane.  Now taking place monthly as funding resources are low.

    Places currently available at all venues, please share with your networks, thank you.

    More information on sessions can be found here:



    2017 - First Quarter Update

    Positive discussions held with S. Kesteven - confirmed sessions early 2016

    Funding application approved S. Holland - plan to begin sessions early 2016

    Spalding, Sleaford and Grantham sessions all confirmed and being delivered.

    2017 - First Quarter Update


    Programme now completed, see above.

    Programme 1, 2 & 3 completed for 2016, 1 of Programme 3 to be delivered in January 2017 then project comes to an end as no more funding available from the Dementia Support Network for the groups in order to sustain their creative sessions.  All outcomes achieved.

    End of Programme 2 and Programme 3 delivered on an outreach basis to older adult community groups and care homes.  Very successful, groups and care homes requesting more sessions.

    Participants for Programme 1, 1 self referral and carer, no GP referrals

    Participants for Programme 2, 1 self referral and carer, care homes and older adult community groups, no GP referrals

    In view of demand, I have submitted an ACE funding application, result will be known late December 2016.  If successful it will allow me to continue to deliver and develop my creative sessions with older adults and those living with dementia.

    Sleaford and Grantham:

    Programme 1 & 2 delivered in each area.  Programme 1 in Sleaford difficult to engage any participants. Programme 2 Oakdene Care Home regular attenders and 1 self referral and carer, no GP referrals

    Programme 1 in Grantham self referral and carer from Newark, self referral and carer from Grantham, Apple Trees Care and Reablement Centre.  Programme 2 only Apple Trees Care and Reablement Centre, no GP referrals.

    Due to care home demand for further sessions, I have submitted ACE funding application as no more funding available through Dementia Support Network.

  • 'Lost & Found' Arts Council England funded project - arts engagement in care homes

    Series of 40 creative sessions delivered in 4 care homes in South Lincolnshire; arts skill sharing session for staff, carers and others working with older adults; touring exhibition by post.

    Exhibition available to post to interested venues, suitable for any space and to be used 1:1 if required.

    for more info please see website: https://lostfound2017.wordpress.com/

    Twitter: #LandFLincs


    2017 - First Quarter Update

    Creative sessions delivered, skill sharing session delivered, touring exhibition visited all 4 participating care homes, now visiting 2 libraries and 2 community venues across South Lincolnshire.

    Programme extended:

    Sandpiper Care Home, Alford; boston Borough Council Municipal Buildings; New Mills Arts Festival, Library in New Mills Derbyshire

  • 'Creative Caring' art action research project in 4 care homes in Fenland

    We consulted with residents, staff, carers and family members through participatory arts engagement: 3D and digital (iPads)

    Free art skill sharing session on Fri 1 Sept 10-12 for those working with older adults



    2017 - Third Quarter Update

    New Action